Supply chain crisis harms Northwestern Ontario

THUNDER BAY – Andrew Scribilo isn’t really going to drive all the way to Winnipeg in a snowstorm just to buy a smoked ham for the holidays.

But he admits he thought about it.

The president of the Kenora Chamber of Commerce said that the fact that he cannot buy Christmas ham in his town at the moment is not only frustrating; it’s another symptom of the growing supply chain crisis impacting the availability of everything from food to cooks.

“You go to a hardware store and the bins for what you need are empty,” Scribilo said. “I hear it and I see it. But you can’t blame the retailers – they try, but they just can’t fit it. ”

In Thunder Bay, Rob Spakowski, a longtime home heating dealer, said he had access to brand new furnaces he could install for a customer this week.

But spare parts for existing units can be hard to come by, Spakowski said, especially if they have to come from the United States, which also faces a supply shortage.

“It was the same with air conditioners this summer,” said Spakowski. “Some days I just went fishing.”

A global shortage of essential computer chips has dampened sales of ovens and automobiles.

Used car and truck dealers say they’re hanging on, but customers need to act fast. Vehicles do not stay on the grounds very long and prices have increased by around 20%.

“We’re surviving because we’ve been around for 25 years, but we’re operating on only 50 percent of what our inventory would normally be right now,” said Randy Salamon, veteran Thunder Bay dealer.

Salamon said the supply issue affecting new vehicles inevitably spills over to his business, which is largely dependent on local trade.

“We try to buy local, but some of our trucks came in from western Canada (during the pandemic) which have their own issues,” he said.

Scribilo said it is difficult to find a new car or truck in Kenora at this time. He said Canadians should consider paying a bit more for a variety of products in the long run, if that’s what it takes to ensure the products are made in North America.

“We have to be self-sufficient,” he said. “Maybe that means paying an extra $ 25 for something.” He added, “I buy all of my vehicles in Kenora. ”

At Lakehead, “we have a lot of companies that have seen a significant impact of supply chain issues over the past few months, from construction companies to retailers to office equipment,” said the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce President Charla Robinson. “It’s a big problem.”

Local grocery stores are running out of staple dairy, fruits and vegetables that would normally come from flood-ravaged British Columbia, Robinson noted.

Thunder Bay ski retailer Steve Scollie said he viewed the supply chain conundrum from different angles.

His stock of skis has not been affected as they are shipped to Montreal from Europe “where they seem to be in control of their situation”.

But that’s another story with winter clothes, which are imported from Asia. Although Scollie’s store is always well stocked, suppliers have requested order commitments earlier than usual.

“I have already placed orders for next year,” he said.

Other retail sectors, such as those selling eyewear, also appear to be well stocked at the moment.

As for Scribilo’s chances of getting his smoked ham: “They said hopefully before Christmas, but they can’t guarantee it.”

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